On Antagonism: if Republicans support the Communists and the Communists support the Democrats, where does that leave the rest of us?

While the rise of the tea party movement demonstrates the rift between the conservative grassroots and the Republican Party, the health care debate has revealed the fault lines within the Democrats' center-left coalition, pitting liberal and progressive activists against the party establishment, as commentators on both the left and the right have noted. Reading these developments together, it is clear that the primary antagonism structuring our political landscape is not between conservatives and liberals, or between the Democratic and Republican Parties, but rather between the people of the United States – conservatives, libertarians, liberals and progressives – and the Democratic-Republican political establishment. Indeed, rank and file opposition to party leadership extends beyond the Democratic and Republican Parties. Consider, for instance, the denunciations of the Communist Party's leadership at Marxism-Leninism Today, which takes issue with the party's official stance toward the foreign and domestic policy of the Obama administration.

When conservatives denounce the agenda of the Obama administration and the Democratic-majority Congress as "communist," liberals and progressives likely roll their eyes, before they turn red. Unsurprisingly, however, in the debate surrounding this charge the position of the Communist Party is rarely taken into consideration. The party's leadership have been consistent, vocal supporters of the Obama administration's agenda, urging continued support for health care reform and, apparently, refusing to adopt a resolution calling for an immediate withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan. The similarities between reports from the Communist Party leadership and Democratic activists are difficult to overlook. Last month, in a report to the party's National Committee, Chairman Sam Webb wrote:
Slightly over a year ago, the American people elected a young African American to the presidency and increased the Democratic majority in the Congress. President Obama’s victory represented a repudiation of right-wing ideology, politics and economics and a setback for neoliberalism in both its conservative and liberal skins . . . Perhaps it is obvious, but if McCain and Palin had been elected, a public option would not be in the center of the conversation — in fact, health care reform wouldn’t even be on the agenda. The Employee Free Choice Act would be off labor’s wish list. The stimulus package would be far smaller and unemployment much higher. There would not be a Puerto Rican woman on the Supreme Court. Our government would be actively supporting the coup regime in Honduras, and relations with Cuba would be frozen or worse. Legislation extending hate crimes to include anti-gay violence would still be on the ‘to do’ list. And not a word would have been mentioned about the abolition of nuclear weapons.
Compare this with a defense of Obama against critics from the left written by Blue Texan at FDL:

Does Hedges really believe the country would look no different today if the Supreme Court hadn’t appointed Bush in 2000? Because I think he’s wrong. Similarly, does anyone think John McCain would have overturned the Bush policy on stem cells, acknowledged the seriousness of climate change, spent a huge amount of political capital trying to reform health care, reversed Bush’s policies on labor, on the environment, or endangered species? Does anyone think John McCain would’ve nominated Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court or signed the stimulus bill?

While many on the right would likely see this convergence between the positions of the Communist and Democratic Parties as proof of the Democrats' "communist" agenda, many Marxist-Leninists view it as "reformist opportunism" and symptomatic of the Communist Party's deterioration and decline. Ironically, however, while denouncing Democrats as socialists and communists, leading Republican Party ideologues are openly calling on conservatives to emulate "far left," "socialist" electoral and political strategies.

Thus, the Communist Party supports the Democratic Party's agenda and Republicans support the Communist Party's strategy, but Marxist-Leninists decry the Communist Party's strategy, conservatives and libertarians stand in open opposition to the Democratic-Republican establishment, and progressives and liberals denounce the Democratic Party's leadership.


Ross Levin said...

You might be interested in this:


d.eris said...

Thanks Ross, actually, that's just what I had in mind, it's the "left" link in the post.

Ross Levin said...

Oh, wow, I didn't even notice that.

Personally, I'm hoping some kind of new populist party emerges that transcends left or right, just like the first populist party.

d.eris said...

I'm with you there. Unfortunately, one of the greatest obstacles to a left/right populist alliance against the ruling parties is the unwillingness of progressive and conservative activists to liberate themselves from the ideology of the two-party state.

d.eris said...

Actually, Ross, on that point, you should check out Folk Politics. LAD has a good post on that exact topic from a progressive perspective.

Samuel Wilson said...

d., your post just proves how partisanship gets in the way of both principle and pragmatism, and not just among the major parties. That's why a no-party state should be the ideal, so long as that means that all issues are debated on their merits rather than their place in some purported larger agenda.

d.eris said...

That's an interesting point, Sam. Last ditch arguments in favor of party government basically assert that voters need to know party affiliation so that they don't really have to know anything about the various candidates or the issues. In effect, the duopoly system of government is predicated upon ignorance.

With respect to principle vs. pragmatism: the popular front against the Democratic-Republican political establishment should demand 1) principled opposition to the ruling parties and 2) pragmatic alliances among independents and third party supporters across the political spectrum, in the interests of furthering #1.

paulie said...

IMO good for IPR if you'd like to post it there